, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Group Condemns Teacher Who Allegedly Bullied Atheist Student For Opting Out Of Pledge

Views Of New York State's Capital CityThe American Humanist Association condemned New York’s Elmira City School District on Tuesday for allegedly breaching an atheist student’s constitutional right to opt out of reciting the school’s daily Pledge of Allegiance. The Southside High School sophomore, who took issue with the pledge’s “under God” clause, sought legal assistance from the secular advocacy group after her high school teacher reportedly threatened her with disciplinary action if she did not rise for the daily oath. [Read more]

Cathedral Bible College President Accused Of Putting International Students Into Forced Labor

n-CATHEDRAL-BIBLE-COLLEGE-large[1]The president and founder of Cathedral Bible College faces federal charges that he made international students work long hours with little pay by threatening their legal status. The Sun News of Myrtle Beach and WBTW reported that bond was set at $250,000 at a hearing Friday for Reginald Wayne Miller. Under the terms of his bond, he is not allowed to visit the college’s campus in Marion or communicate with current or former foreign students. [Read more]

Pat Robertson says Husbands Who Do Dishes Should be Rewarded by Their Wives with Sex

pat_robertson-620x412[1]Speaking on his “700 Club” TV show on Tuesday, televangelist and former GOP presidential candidate Pat Robertson urged wives everywhere to use sex in order to reward their husbands for doing chores. After listening to a letter from a female viewer detailing her husband’s habit of wanting outsize credit whenever he washes a dish or sweeps the floor, Robertson told the letter writer that she needs to “understand the male psyche.” [Read more]

Why Science Could be Close to Solving the Biggest Mystery in the Universe

cosmos-620x412[1]Scientists are playing a dogged game of hide-and-seek with one of the universe’s most plentiful components: dark matter. So far, dark matter continues to hide as scientists still seek. No one knows what comprises this invisible form of matter, but a leading candidate is a type of particle called a WIMP (weakly interacting massive particle). WIMPs are appealing because although they themselves neither radiate nor reflect light, they might produce other particles that do. WIMPs might be the same as anti-WIMPs, meaning that they are their own antimatter counterparts. [Read more]

Same-Sex Marriage Support Reaches New High at 55%

y0ffodnhgeejsgoevfw40w[1]Americans’ support for the law recognizing same-sex marriages as legally valid has increased yet again, now at 55%. Marriage equality advocates have had a string of legal successes over the past year, most recently this week in Pennsylvania and Oregon where federal judges struck down bans on gay marriage. Two successive Gallup polls in 2012 saw support climb from 53% to 54%, indicating a steady but slight growth in acceptance of gay marriages over the past year after a more rapid increase between 2009 and 2011. [Read more]

Pregnant Christian Woman Sentenced to Hang for Faith Gives Birth to Baby Girl in Prison

gabriel-wani-meriam-yehya-ibrahim[1]A pregnant Christian woman from Sudan who has vowed to never renounce her faith in Christ even after being sentenced to death for it, gave birth to a baby girl in prison on Tuesday. Meriam Ibrahim, 27, who has been shackled in jail for the last four months, gave birth five days early in the hospital wing at the Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison in North, Khartoum, according to a Daily Mail report. “This is some good news in what has been a terrible ordeal for Meriam. I am planning to visit her with her husband Daniel later today. [Read more]

What Ken Ham Thinks the Atheist Agenda Is

godless-atheist[1]Based on a YouTube video of a few atheists talking about creationism, home school and Ken HamHam has concluded: “A recent video of an atheist chat session on the internet is a must watch for all Christians! Every pastor, Christian leader, homeschooler, teenager, Christian parent, and, in fact, all Christians need to see this video chat featuring a number of very intolerant atheists (and some are hateful and angry). In fact, watch it at your Bible study, youth group meeting, home group, home, and so on—you will hear for yourself some of the best practical illustrations of many passages of Scripture come to life, including Romans 1, 2 Peter 3, and many other passages of Scripture that refer to people who oppose Christians. This can be an excellent practical Bible study for you.” [Read more]

Obamacare Foe Met Privately with Okla. School Officials on Bible Class

bible-based-curriculum-ap745641242738[1]A school board that approved a Bible-based curriculum for pupils next fall broke into small groups and met privately with the program’s chief backer, the president of the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts store chain, to get around an Oklahoma law that requires government bodies to be open to the public, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press. [Read more]

India v. Hinduphobia: What Narendra Modi’s Election as Prime Minister Really Means

Narendra Modi At Party Office After Victory In Lok Sabha ElectionsNarendra Modi’s victory needs to be understood beyond the two commonly heard positions we have heard these past few months leading up to the election. Critics of Mr. Modi’s saw his rise as the march of Hindu nationalist fascism and the inevitable death of secularism in India. [Read more]

Conservative Christianity’s “Come to Jesus” Moment in Wake of Elliot Rodger Shootings

rodger_302[1]In the wake of the tragic massacre at UCSB on Friday night in which Elliott Rodger murdered 6 people and injured 13 more before taking his own life, much has been written about Rodger’s motivations for the murders. In a series of misogynist, racist posts, videos and a 141-page manifesto he sent to media, Rodger outlined plans for what he called his “Day of Retribution.” Many commentators have rightfully critiqued Rodger’s horrific actions as examples of extreme misogyny and even terrorism. [Read more]

How Biodiversity Arises

fish-skull[1]A new study of how biodiversity arises, by evolutionary biologists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, shows how a mutation in a single gene during development can lead to different consequences not only in how animals’ skull and jaw are shaped, but how this leads to different feeding strategies to exploit different ecological niches. The study in the cichlid fish model by Yinan Hu, a doctoral student in organismic and evolutionary biology, with his advisor Craig Albertson, is among the first to address how a single genetic change can influence both trait development and function. [Read more]

Why Do Many Christians Still Literally Believe in Demons and Satan?

screen_shot_2014-05-27_at_11.56.04_am[1]If there’s anywhere in the U.S. where you’d expect aggressively conservative, domineering religion to be a relic of the past, it’s tolerant and culturally liberal Massachusetts. But even in that blue enclave, the theocratic impulse is still surprisingly powerful. We found this out when a student group at Harvard University, the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, ignited a furor by announcing that they were planning an educational program of ceremonies from different belief systems around the world, and that one of these ceremonies, in partnership with the New York-based Satanic Temple, was going to be a Satanist black mass. [Read more]

You’d Have to be Science Illiterate to Think “Belief in Evolution” Measures Science Literacy

gssnsf[1]It’s been soooo long — at least 3 weeks! — since I last did a post on the relationship between “belief in evolution” & “science literacy.” That’s just not right!  Plus I have some cool new data on this issue. But let’s start with a reprise of the basics — because one can never overstate how aggressively ignored they are by those who flip out & let loose with a toxic stream of ignorance & cultural zealotry every time a polling organization announces the “startling” news that nearly 50% of the US public continues (as it has for decades) to say “no” when asked whether they believe in evolution (in addition, if one asks how many of the “believers” subscribe to a “naturalistic” or Darwinian view as opposed to a “theistic” variant, the proportion plummets down all the more– for “Democrats” as well as “Republicans” blah blah blah). [Read more]

American Atheists: Judge Misunderstood Suit Over Special Tax Privileges for Churches

Dave-Muscato-via-screencap-615x345[1]A federal judge in the Eastern District of Kentucky dismissed a suit by the group American Atheists demanding that churches be subject to the same level of federal scrutiny as secular nonprofit groups. In the ruling, issued earlier this week, Judge William O. Bertelsman dismissed the case on the grounds that American Atheists, Inc. has not been sufficiently harmed by the preferential treatment shown to churches by the government. [Read more]

Should Church Donations be Tax Exempt?

church-donations[1]If a person gives money, services, or property to a church they can deduct the amount of their donation on their Federal tax return. Every year, billions of dollars of money, services, and property, are given to churches.  Not only does the giver get a tax deduction for his donation, but the church does not have to pay any tax on the donations it receives. All churches, by default, are tax exempt. Many people wrongly think that a church must be 501c3 approved to be tax exempt. [Read more]

How Pope Francis Exposed the Brutality of Israel’s Apartheid Wall

pope_francis_in_march_2013[1]All it took was a prayer to make Pope Francis’ first visit to the Middle East a memorable one.  While the pope’s motorcade was making his way through Bethlehem, he made an impromptu stop. Pope Francis got out and walked over to the hulking slab of concrete that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank. He put his head against the wall. Israeli occupation soldiers watched from above. Then the cameras started snapping. The pope prayed at the wall nearby graffiti that spoke to the plight of Palestinians. [Read more]

Breaking Down the “Nones,” the Most Unhelpful Term in Religion Research

stmq84x[1]Whenever we see research about religion in America, atheists and agnostics tend to be lumps into a broader category called “Nones” or “Unaffiliated”… which sounds fine, until you realize that the group also includes people who believe in God but just don’t claim a religious label. Tobin Grant at Religion News Service has been analyzing the non-religious segment of the Nones and gives us some very useful insights: [Read more]

Can Homeopathy ‘Work’ Even When There’s No Evidence?

homeopathy_m2186255[1]The debate about the effectiveness of homeopathy is nothing new. Most recently it made headlines after Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council released a draft information paper on homeopathy which found there were “no health conditions for which there was reliable evidence that homeopathy was effective”. [Read more]

Rare Footage Of Jim Jones Preaching & Performing “Miracles” 

Christian Nightmares recently shared this rare clip of infamous cult leader Jim Jones preaching and performing “miracles” at his church, the People’s Temple, in Los Angeles. Personally, I find this fascinating (and a bit terrifying). This is, after all, the guy who quite literally and tragically got his followers (or possibly forced them) to “drink the kool-aid.”

[Read more]

Israeli Activist Accuses Interior Minister of Int’l Law Violations

The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky follows Israeli activist Tamar Aviyah to the home of Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar to deliver a message. Sa’ar has personally spearheaded Israel’s aggressive policy against African asylum seekers deporting most and imprisoning thousands.

[Read more]

Atheists in the Bible Belt: A Survival Guide

Back home, they erase their Internet histories, look over their shoulders before cracking jokes and nod politely when co-workers talk about church. But in a hotel ballroom here on a recent weekend, more than 220 atheists, agnostics, skeptics and freethinkers let it all hang out. [Read more]

Secular Groups Sign Up to Give ‘Blessings’ at Meetings

David Williamson doubts the heavens will open up next month when he delivers a secular invocation to begin the Osceola County Commission meeting. In Central Florida, Christian clergy predominantly provide that service. [Read more]

Why No Meat in the Pope’s Environmentalism?

Alongside his commitment to ending poverty, Pope Francis is now frequently addressing sustainable development. His next encyclical is expected to deal with this theme and in his last Wednesday’s address, the Pope warned, “If we destroy creation, creation will destroy us.” [Read more]

A Biblical Catastrophe: New Details Stoke Concerns Over Okla. Public School Bible Class

Emerging details about Hobby Lobby owner Steve Green’s controversial Bible class appear to confirm concerns about its sectarian intentions. The class, which is currently being challenged by Americans United, the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, is set to enter public schools in Mustang, Okla., next year. [Read more]

Will Public Prayer Return?

In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed uncensored public prayer on Monday – and some local officials have weighed in on the decision. The high court ruled in favor of a town council in Greece, N.Y., outside of Rochester, which was sued in 2008 by the Americans United for Separation of Church and State on behalf of residents Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens. [Read more]

Prior to Death, Fred Phelps Had Change of Heart According to Grandson

As Fred Phelps lay dying last March, revelations that he had been excommunicated from Westboro the summer before surfaced. The new leadership of the church, secretive as ever, declined to comment on what led to his ouster. [Read more]

Church and State : A History of Religious Intrusion into Government

We are a nation built and sustained by our cultural, political, religious and social diversity, which remains simultaneously our greatest strength and weakness. As a nation of immigrants we are not of one mind, not guided by one conscience and certainly not bound to one religion. [Read more]

Group Decries Iowa Funding for Bible-Themed Park

A national group says Iowa shouldn’t fund a planned Christian-themed park in Sioux City and should take back a $140,000 grant. The Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation said in a letter to Iowa officials last week that giving grant money to The Shepherd’s Garden violates the U.S. and Iowa constitutions. [Read more]

1797 Treaty Makes Religious Stand Clear

“As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion — as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of (Islam).” Did you read that quote? If not, go back and read it, because it’s important. This is a line from the Treaty of Tripoli. It was written in 1797 by a local legend. [Read more]

Letter: Evolution is Also Just a Belief

In the April 18 News-Review, the two candidates talked about how they differed on the teaching of evolution and creation in public school. Dallas Heard was absolutely correct. Both should be taught as elective courses. Both creation and evolution are religious world views. [Read more]